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The housewife's tale

Cleanliness, they say, is next to godliness. If that is true, then my apotheosis is still a long way off. It's not that I'm living in squalor, exactly (if I haven't hoovered for a week, I will begin to think about it), but I'm definitely not as house-proud as the generation of women before me. Of course, I work long hours during the week and use that as my excuse, but my mum worked too and her house was always spotless...On Saturdays, she'd clean the windows and scrub the floors, and as a child, I used to love the smell of a freshly cleaned house. She hoovered, made the beds, cooked dinner and did the dishes every day, and once a year performed the ritual known as spring cleaning, when all the cupboards and cabinets got emptied, cleaned, and the contents re-evaluated before she decided whether they went back in or got thrown away, all the furniture and silverware got polished, and everything received a good wash down and\or airing...How is it possible that she could do so much, and so cheerfully, in the same amount of time I have at my disposal (less even, if you think about it, as her time was never her own, but her family's), and I can't?

I took the hoover out earlier today. I'd been thinking about it for days. But now that it's done, I can't help noticing that I've done it a bit haphazardly. I've missed a few spots here and there -- but I can't be shagged to go over them again. I'll get to them next time...maybe.

When I first started work, I had a charlady. She was wonderful. She cleaned and polished, and she even did my ironing. My living quarters had never been more neat and tidy, and I really enjoyed coming home to a sparkling kitchen. Sadly, after about a year, she moved away and I never found anyone to take her place. Not that I looked for a replacement very hard. I thought I'd save my money and do it myself -- after all, how hard could it be?

But I think you have to have a certain attitude, a predisposition in order to do them well. Me, I hate the household chores, hate them with a passion. They're a means to an end, and a very unpleasant means at that. They ruin your hands and nails, and they make you all sweaty and red in the face. So I postpone doing them as long as I can, and then have to do them all at once when I finally do get around to them. And then I just want them over with as quickly as possible, so the table top gets a cursory wipe-down, and I miss corners when hoovering or mopping the floor, and the annoyance starts to build again.

It also doesn't help that I've got cats. People say cats are clean -- well, yes they are, but they can't eat without spilling. They walk the litterbox sand into the carpet. They shed hairs everywhere. And they ruin every bit of wooden furniture and tear down the wallpaper with their nails. Scratching posts? My cats aren't clever enough to work out what they're for, and they stand in the corner unused, bloody eyesores.

Maybe I should move house again. For the first year after I'd bought my flat, I was a domestic goddess. No chore, however unglamorous, was too much for me. After a long day's slaving over them, I took pride in my freshly waxed parquetry floors and gleaming kitchen cabinets. But then I ran out of steam, and I just never got it back again.

The first Christmas card arrived in the post yesterday. And I wanted a clean house before I could sit down and start writing mine. But I've sat down in front of the computer instead, and don't think I'll get around now to cleaning the kitchen and the bathroom as originally planned.

Comments

( 38 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
tori_x
Nov. 30th, 2005 10:44 am (UTC)
lol I hate cleaning with a passion and I live with the cleanest person in the world, she's actually really anal about it and it drives me up the wall. If I lived on my own I would be like you and put it off for as long as possible but living with my very own Monica means I don't have that time everything has to be spotless all the time.
gamiila
Nov. 30th, 2005 11:47 am (UTC)
I live with the cleanest person in the world, she's actually really anal about it and it drives me up the wall.

My stepfather was like that. His idea of a birthday present was a mop and a bucket, and a cheerful "now you can do your kitchen floor without having to bend down!" He'd come in and the first thing he'd say was "Have you seen that cobweb in the corner over there?" Honestly, the man used to drive me batty with his endless demonstrations of the latest in cleaning technology. Still, if I played my cards right, I could have him come over and 'demonstrate' every so often, and the house would be sparkling by the time he left! He used to be in the navy -- it was a tic he picked up there. ;-)
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sanda56
Nov. 30th, 2005 11:05 am (UTC)
I thought I'd save my money and do it myself -- after all, how hard could it be?

Yes, I thought that about having a home help and got rid of her. Sadly after a month or so of keeping up her high standards the place got back to being scruffy again. I mean you can't write your name in the dust (or can you?) but it's just not so sparkly clean any more.

Pah! Housework!
gamiila
Nov. 30th, 2005 11:56 am (UTC)
It's the idea that once someone's cleaned the place from top to bottom, all you ever need to do is take out the feather duster every so often, and it'll all be alright -- but of course it won't be. By the time you realise that, it's too late, and you can start all over again. :(
desdemonaspace
Nov. 30th, 2005 11:42 am (UTC)
How is it possible that she could do so much, and so cheerfully, in the same amount of time I have at my disposal (less even, if you think about it, as her time was never her own, but her family's), and I can't?

I was about to say that life overall is more stressful nowadays, and then caught myself ... um, WWII, not stressful? I have to give the dear lady full marks!

My own house is always pretty messy and disarrayed. Frank is supposed to be a house-husband, but makes a pretty poor job of it. My house was cleanest when I was up north, on unemployment, and I kept house for us, before getting the job down here in the city. I do like keeping house, but only when I'm not working full-time.

I'm right there with ya on the cats -- clean personally, but they do tend to mess a place up.
gamiila
Nov. 30th, 2005 12:02 pm (UTC)
I have to give the dear lady full marks!

My stepdad used to say that it was my mum having spoiled us as children, cleaning up after us instead of making us do it ourselves. Mum took exception to that -- not only did she take it as a criticism as to how she had raised her children, but she also knew that it couldn't be true. You see, my mum came from a priviliged colonial family -- she grew up in a house full of servants, and never did any housework herself until she found herself in reduced circumstances in her late teens\early twenties.
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bogwitch
Nov. 30th, 2005 12:42 pm (UTC)
I'm monumentally bad at cleaning (and getting around to doing it). It doesn't help when your flat is still a complete dump when you've finished.

>>So I postpone doing them as long as I can, and then have to do them all at once when I finally do get around to them.

Ah yes.
gamiila
Nov. 30th, 2005 01:31 pm (UTC)
I'm the world's biggest procrastinator. About the only time when I can get around to doing the housework, is when I have people coming round. And then they don't notice what a grand job I've done! ;-)
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hils
Nov. 30th, 2005 01:06 pm (UTC)
I'm exactly the same. I clean when I really have to and that's about it

We're going to have a proper clean this weekend as I want a nice tidy house when we put up our Christmas decs
gamiila
Nov. 30th, 2005 01:32 pm (UTC)
Christmas decorations -- another task I can never set myself to until it's Christmas Eve! ;-)
curiouswombat
Nov. 30th, 2005 01:33 pm (UTC)
Sounds just like me as well. Only my Mum was not exactly the Domestic goddess type either!
gamiila
Nov. 30th, 2005 01:35 pm (UTC)
You see, that's why I love LJ so much: instant validation! ;-)
luvs_phoenix
Nov. 30th, 2005 03:18 pm (UTC)
You hit the nail on the head luv.

I hate cleaning. Mostly because the reward is too short. Within MINUTES Hunter or the cats will mess it up so, in my mind, why bother?

I'm luckier than most though. I particularly hate cleaning dishes and with james I don't ever have to again. Yes, I COULD do them better (I hate how he sets up the dishwasher!) but the point is that I don't have to do them now and it's a bloody relief.

I also hate laundry for the same reasons as dishes. It just never ever ends.

Oh, and spending money on food because you have nothing to show for it but a fat ass.

Nope. If it was me, I'd buy yarn and sit in squalor.

:D
gamiila
Nov. 30th, 2005 09:18 pm (UTC)
Me, I'll never regret spending money on food because I regard mealtime as the highlight of the day (even if it's just me, myself and I), but oh! the dishes afterwards...Luckily, I have more than one dinner service so I could go quite a long time before doing them (only then they'd clutter up my kitchen sink and start to smell and I couldn't abide that). But 2 or 3 days is fine! ;-)
anonypooh
Nov. 30th, 2005 03:36 pm (UTC)
hee I don't have to tell you I hate cleaning -- you've seen the evidence! At the moment my ironing mountain is currently threatening to fall over and bury the hoover for good.

yay!
gamiila
Nov. 30th, 2005 09:09 pm (UTC)
At the moment my ironing mountain is currently threatening to fall over and bury the hoover for good.

A perfect excuse! Unless...Mr. Jay wouldn't go out and buy you a new one, would he?
deborahw37
Nov. 30th, 2005 04:44 pm (UTC)
I used to have someone from the village in to clean once a week, but she gradually started bringing more and more children with her and my house isn't really child friendly ... some stuff got broken and also as she was looking after the children at the same time she just wasn't making a proper job of the cleaning .Now I have a firm come in once a month and clean the place from top to bottom . I find it much easier to keep up to scratch in between times . I amuse my husband by insisting that we clean the house before the cleaners come. This sounds daft but means that because they don't have to waste time tidying and making beds and stuff they can do all the things I really hate doing, like scrubbing floors and cleaning tiles and paintwork and the oven. If I'm in the right mood I rather enjoy housework.. sadly I'm rarely in the right mood but I also can't relax in an untidy house so I tend to try and keep it reasonable.
gamiila
Nov. 30th, 2005 09:06 pm (UTC)
I amuse my husband by insisting that we clean the house before the cleaners come. This sounds daft

No, actually, it doesn't. Mum's got home help now and goes around dusting before he comes so he can get on with the more strenuous tasks...she evidently thinks just like you!
kassto
Nov. 30th, 2005 07:13 pm (UTC)
``Make Me Smile'' by Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel!!?

Yes! In fact, many yeses!

You are a woman of honeyed and superlative taste!

Housework. I have no excuse because I am a housewife. A very poor one. I would love it to be all clean and shiny but I can't bring myself to do it!

gamiila
Nov. 30th, 2005 08:31 pm (UTC)
``Make Me Smile'' by Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel!!?

Yes! In fact, many yeses!


That song's been a favourite of mine for 30 years or more (I don't know how old it is, exactly, but it was a big hit in my younger days). If I ever get around to making a soundtrack of my life, it would feature on it prominently. It's such a wonderful, wonderful song...oooh lalala oooh lalala oooh

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quietlychaotic
Dec. 1st, 2005 12:38 pm (UTC)
Me and house work are only mixey on a need to basis, but my horses stables are very clean, go figure *grin*
Steve Harley hey, here's a not too fasinating fact for you Steve comes from my home town and one of my best friends is Steves drummer *told you it's not that fasinating*
gamiila
Dec. 1st, 2005 07:28 pm (UTC)
You're right: that bit of trivia's really not too fascinating! Still, thanks for sharing! ;-)
( 38 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
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